The View from the Back of the Pack: Thomas Goes to the NOC

About a month ago, at a trial up in Northern California, I spoke to a woman who’d gone to the AKC National Obedience Championship with her Basset Hound. A dog qualifies for the NOC by earning obedience trial championship points; the AKC invites the top three pointed dogs in each breed, plus more according to various other formulas. For a Basset Hound, typically a single point is enough get the dog invited; as with a Cairn Terrier, there just aren’t that many dogs vying for those three spots. If you attend the event under those circumstances, you go knowing you’ll be up against dogs with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of points, dogs who qualify routinely handled by trainers who’ve dedicated their lives to the sport.

You know you won’t win, or even make the final 50 who compete a second day. You go for your own reasons.

“My only goal,” said the Basset Hound trainer, “was not to be last. And we weren’t! We weren’t last.” Continue reading